Category Archives: Lake Okeechobee

Irma’s Waters Ravage the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

Hurricane  Irma may be gone, but her waters are not. Our now black river and the giant plume off the St Lucie Inlet attest to this. Clean rain that fell in our region during the hurricane is now filthy “stormwater” discharging, unfiltered, through manmade canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and C-44.  Nature did not design the river to directly take this much water; this much water kills.

Every plume looks different, and this one is multilayered with no clear border. Sediment soup, black-brown in color, yesterday it extended out about 2/3 of a mile into a stirred up Atlantic and flowed south, in the rough waves not quite having made it to Peck’s Lake.

Since Hurricane Irma’s rains, area canals dug with no environmental foresight in the 1920s and 50s for flood control, and to facilitate agriculture and development, have been flowing straight into the river. On top of this, in anticipation of the hurricane, three days prior to IRMA the Army Corp of Engineers began discharging from Lake Okeechobee. During the hurricane they halted, and then started up again at high discharge levels reaching over (4000 cfs +/-) this past Friday, September 15th. As Lake Okeechobee rises and inflow water pours in from the north, and is blocked by the Everglades Agricultural Area in the south, we can expect more Lake O discharge on top of the canal releases themselves.

As advocates for the St Lucie River we continue the fight to expedite the building of the EAA reservoir and to create a culture to “send more water south.” In the meantime, we, and the fish and wildlife, and the once “most bio diverse estuary in North America,” suffer…

Links to lake O level and canal flows are below.

Lake Okeechobee level, 9-18-17: 15.50, http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml

S-308 Lake O:http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/plots/s308d.pdf

S-80 C-44 Canal:http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/plots/s80d.pdf

C-23/S-97; C-24/S-49, & C-25/S-50: (click on highlighted S # arrow corresponding to canal to see discharge into river; for instance, C-23 is released through “S,” structure 97, so click on S-97 to see flows for C-23 canal) http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.pkg_rr.proc_rr?p_op=FORT_PIERCE

My brother Todd, has complied many other links on his website’s favorites under St Lucie River and ACOE/SFWMD: http://www.thurlowpa.com/news.htm

Post Irma flight over St Lucie River/IRL 9-17-17

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image. All canals shown here discharge into the SLR/IRL.
The confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon at Sewall’s Point, an area once full of seagrasses and fisheries and formerly considered the heart of “the most bio diverse estuary in North America.”
Waves in plume breaking over offshore reefs; looking north to Hurchinson Island.
Southern edge of plume along Jupiter Island and Jupiter Narrows south of St Lucie Inlet.

Looking south off St Lucie Inlet.
South edge of plume looking south towards Jupiter Island.

JTL 9-18-17

Landsat 7 satellite reveals 60 square mile algae bloom in Lake O, SLR/IRL

https://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/landsat-7/

ALGAE BLOOM UPDATE: Yesterday’s Landsat 7 satellite image reveals an algae bloom between Pahokee and Port Mayaca in Lake Okeechobee  measuring approximately 60 square miles. Thank you to my brother, Todd Thurlow, for researching and sharing. Visit his site here:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/index.html#LE07_L1TP_015041_20170814_20170814_01_RT%2520-%2520Crop.jpg)

Our Common Enemy, Toxic Algae, SLR/IRL

Rocks and algae, Lake O 7-26-17

Definition: caught between a rock and a hard place

“to be in a very difficult situation and to have to make a hard decision”

“State Says Blue-Green Algae in Lake Okeechobee is Not Toxic,”
WPTV, link 7-26-17: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-okeechobee-county/state-says-blue-green-algae-in-lake-okeechobee-is-not-toxic

The fact that Lake Okeechobee, the St Lucie River, and other water bodies of our state are in such poor condition puts the state of Florida “between a rock and a hard place.” After all, for centuries just saying the word “Florida” conjured up visions paradise…
Early rendition of the Everglades area including the rivers of the SLR/IRL. (Thurlow Collection.)
Cyanobacteria, that often becomes “toxic algae,” is bad for business. In fact, perhaps nothing is worse for business. It is also bad for people’s health. Hmm? How does the state report toxic algae and fulfill their responsibility for safety without scaring people away? And without hurting business?

The answer is of course that “you really can’t…” But you can be honest and take leadership. You can turn a bad situation into a good one, because after all, a very powerful force of human nature is a common enemy.

Cyanobacteria, toxic algae, is our common enemy.  For ALL of us.

The state has known that Lake Okeechobee has been eutrophic (prone to algae blooms) since at least the 1960s–the time of my birth. Early documentation from the state Geological Societies and Water Management Districts clearly documented the over nutrification of the lake, due to agriculture and development’s run-off exacerbated by channelization of rivers, lakes, the draining of lands, later the spreading of bio-solids (treated human waste) on fields, and a population explosion.

It is time to start diligently approaching the reporting of algae blooms and tracking their sources. There is a lot of area to cover; we can’t just test from the side of the road. Algae is living and changing and morphing every second. It is worth the investment to monitor it for what it is, an enemy.  24 hours a day…

Area of Lake O algae bloom, 7-21-17.

Dept. of Environmental Protection, algae sites reported and tested: http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=60d6ebf175f44ac1b7e51c00185883b4&extent=-88.8794,23.6596,-75.3882,32.9764

DEP’s warning to the public regarding algae blooms in water bodies: http://www.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2017/07/072117-dep-and-doh-algal-blooms.html

Visit Florida’s words on algae blooms, toxic algae and cyanobacteria: http://www.visitflorida.org/resources/crisis-preparation/blue-green-algae-information/

 

Lake O shoreline, 7-26-17
VIDEO:

The Everglades’ Boundary of 1910, and Today’s Toxic Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

Historic map, Palm Beach Farms Company Lands ca. 1910 showing “edge of Everglades.”  Archives, Lawrence E. Will Museum of the Glades, Belle Glade, Fl.

Looking back gives us perspective when looking forward.

This old map showing the Palm Beach Farms Company Lands is interesting as is shows where people saw the “edge of the Everglades” when they were first developing around 1910.

Today it is hard to judge where we are and what “was” the Everglades…Some of us are literally “in it.”

Looking back, it is easy to see how  after over 100 years the waters of Lake Okeechobee are becoming more and more “toxic.” Kind of like a fish tank that can never be cleaned out….

One has wonder if the developers of the Everglades ever considered what would happen to the lake by building and developing farm lands right in the way of the natural flow, and then really blocking it by eventually putting a dike around the lake? In this map, the push was to develop lands further west beyond the eastern ridge…Think all all the development today out west beyond the ridge and into the historic Everglades!

Perhaps in their wildest dreams the early developers  would have never envisioned how many people live in south Florida today. Maybe they didn’t care. In any case, today we all here in South Florida are connected somehow to Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s  “liquid heart,” for drinking water, recharge, recreation, property values, and our health.

Over our history the human spirit has overcome greater threats than toxic algae; I am confident we will once again.

SFWMD satellite map South Florida. Red lines denote historic Everglades.
SFWMD
Lake O eastern shoreline, Port Mayaca, 7-21-17, JTL
Lake O, 7-21-17


LINKS:

Lawrence E Will Museum of the Glades: https://www.museumoftheglades.org

https://www.facebook.com/lawrenceewillmuseum/

Lake O acres today?/451,000: http://www.lakelubbers.com/lake-okeechobee-107/

Township and Range? the squares: http://www.jsu.edu/dept/geography/mhill/phygeogone/trprac.html

Palm Beach Farms Company Lands-History (-bottom of blog by Ginger Peterson, Boyton Historical Society: http://www.jsu.edu/dept/geography/mhill/phygeogone/trprac.html

Two Planes; One Algae Bloom? SLR/IRL

Ed, my husband, and Todd my brother, algae hunters! The Cub.
The Baron, Todd and Ed. All of Todd’s photos are linked at the bottom of this post.

On Saturday, my husband, Ed, took my brother, Todd, up in both the Cub and the Baron to look for a the large algae bloom Ed and I had seen last Wednesday in Lake Okeechobee. I went along for the Baron ride, but the Cub only holds two.

Maybe you, like me, after listening to the news the past few days, realized there were other blooms reported, even a “small one” in Pahokee on May 20th by famed biologist Barry Rosen, of USGA. I wondered if Todd and Ed would see more blooms, other blooms…

Saturday, July 22, 2017, was much more overcast than the previous Wednesday, so the lake photos Todd took are not as bright in color, but the “southwest of Port Mayaca” bloom is definitely still there. Todd did not report any others during the trip and the GPS track shows that he and Ed went quite far north and west. (Channel 12 reported on two blooms on Lake O’s western shore…)

Before the flight, Todd also shared the most recent Landsat 8 satellite image that shows where the large “southwest of Port Mayaca” bloom is located although here too, there are a lot of clouds blocking the image…

Approaching Lake O with widespread cloud cover.

After Wednesday’ s post, many were asking me  if there were visible blooms in the St Lucie River or C-44 Canal.

The answer: “No.” From 1000 feet up, there are none visible. But there are the “bubble like nutrient swirls” that seem to proceed the blooms in some areas.  (You’ll notice these in Todd’s photos and all 350+ photos are linked at end of post.)

I did notice that on Facebook a small bloom was reported at Rivers’ Landing in Palm City, and another one on rocks in the North Fork. The Caloosahatchee has indeed reported a pretty significant bloom…blooms are in the estuaries but the motherload is Lake O.

Have you seen any blooms? If so, here is the link to report algae blooms to the Department of Environmental Protection, “DEP.”

It is important to report what you see!

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/central/Home/Watershed/ReportProblem.htm

I happened to notice when I visited the DEP website that DEP states:  “Blooms are naturally occurring.”

…Yes this is true; so is cancer.

However, nutrient pollution that feeds these algae blooms and is killing our estuaries, and possibly us, is entirely man-made. We know what causes it.

We must be more diligent and creative in stopping the nutrient run of from agriculture and development. “Taking measures”as noted in the DEP quote as the game plan just isn’t enough. After all, this is a war to save our Florida.

Florida’s five water managements districts map DEP.

__________________________________________________________

QUOTE on DEP web page regarding algae blooms: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/bgalgae/

“There are no short term solutions to rectifying the situation; this is a naturally occurring phenomenon that the State monitors closely. However, the state is taking measures that in the long-term will reduce nutrient loading and improve water quality.” DEP, 2017 website
 

LINKS:

Weather Channel story with photo of small bloom found in Lake O at Pahokee and reported on May 20, 2017 by USGA biologist, Barry Rosen: https://weather.com/science/environment/news/florida-algae-bloom-lake-okeechobee

USGA: Tracking the Bad Guys 2017: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/tracking-bad-guys-toxic-algal-blooms

A great book on the subject of nutrient pollution: Clean Coastal Waters, Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/9812/clean-coastal-waters-understanding-and-reducing-the-effects-of-nutrient

LANDSAT 8

Landsat 8 satellite image, 7-21-17

Photos by Todd Thurlow SLR, C-44, Lake O

GPS of trip. 1. Blue Cub. 2. Red Baron.
South Fork that connects to C-44 and then Lake O  at Port Mayaca,  near Palm City; following photos just going west towards Lake Okeechobee. Notice the bubble trails.
Rowers near Palm City
American Yachts and 195 overpass is near where C-44 connects to South Fork of St Lucie River
S-80 where area basin water is allowed into South Fork of St Lucie as well as water from Lake O if S-308 is open at Port Mayaca
Part of C-44 Reservoir project, the biggest in the state, to hold area basin water, clean and return to C-44.
Water and sediment leaving ag canals entering C-44 canal
Indiantown area and  C-44.
FPL cooling pond. This area was once a cypress tree forest
Port Mayaca’s S-308 at Lake Okeechobee
C-44 is “running backwards” into Lake O right now, dark color is visible
Algae is present south west of Port Mayaca but not as bright on this cloudy day…
S-308
Lake O southwest of Port Mayaca
S-308 looking east from LakeO
the northwestern shoreline
S-308 with C-44 area basin waters going into lake. Usually these waters flow into C-44 and the SLR
Northwestern shoreline
Water in northwest

 

Photo in 2nd plane, the Baron. I went along for this one as you can get a more overall view…
Again algae present in Lake O southwest waters but not as intense as seen in blog photos I published four days prior as this day was cloudy and there was little sunlight.
My brother noted the algae around the Okeechobee Waterway canal cut into the lake. Interesting!
The water flowing backwards from C-44 area basin is certainly one of the things fouling Lake Okeechobee.
2. This 1995-2005 map shows phosphorus loads to lake and SRL for that time. (SFWMD)

See all of Todd’s photos here: http://www.thethurlows.com/LakeO_07-22-2017/

“Algae Hunters” Track Significant Bloom Living in the Middle of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

My husband and I have decided we are algae hunters…

Hello Readers. Hope you are having a good summer!

Even though I am supposed to be on a “blogcation,” my husband, Ed, and I decided to fly over Lake Okeechobee this morning as yesterday Dr Susan Gray of the South Florida Water Management District reported on the Army Corp of Engineer Periodic Scientist Call that recent Landsat Satellite images had revealed significant algae in the middle of the lake- – – an area known as “LZ40.”

Sure enough, once Ed  and I got up in the air, just a few miles west of Port Mayaca, the strings of bright green algae were visible from about 1000 feet —-looking down— up to as far as eye could see…

Very strange to be surrounded by water and bright-colored lines of algae; it resembled  miles of suspended fluorescent paint. I have heard the scientists talking about how the algae comes up in the morning for sunlight and then goes back down into the water column later in the day. It is  intelligent, like an animal, and knows how to hide. You have to track it….

The living bloom was quite extensive, going on for many miles. My photos do not do the color or amount justice, but do document. This is important.

Thank God the ACOE is not dumping into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon this summer. Poor lake O, on the other hand, has been getting “backwards flowing” C-44 water and back-pumped water from the EAA, STAs, and WCAs. No wonder its a mess!

Thank you to the SFWMD for the heads up! We do appreciate your work. We have inherited and created “quite an animal.”

See everyone soon.

Jacqui

*STA is storm water treatment areas

* WCA is water conservation areas

South Florida

SFWMD website:  (https://www.sfwmd.gov)

NOTE OF INTEREST:

*Reader, Professor Geoff Norris recommends we ask NOAA to create a bulletin for Lake O like this one here for Lake Erie since basically we are “in the same boat:” I think this is a great idea. I will have to contact NOAA.

(https://nccospublicstor.blob.core.windows.net/hab-data/bulletins/lake-erie/2017/projection_2017-05.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=GovDelivery)

Tracking of journey upon return from Ed’s watch 7-19-17 around 9am
Center area of Lake O LZ40 is where SFWMD reported 7-18-17 that algae was showing on Landsat satellite images

 

Ed approaching Lake Okeechobee
FPL pond, Herbert Hoover Dike, and Lake O
S-308 and dike
Algae starts to appear just a few miles out
Algae get thicker and brighter as we continue flying west

_____________________________________________________________________________

​​

Deadlines for EAA Reservoir and SB10, SLR/IRL

Aerials of A-1/A-2 region of the EAA, JTL/EL 2017
The following is a handout Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic passed out yesterday at the Rivers Coalition meeting. It is created by John Ullman of the Florida Sierra Club and gives clear presentation on what is necessary for the EAA Reservoir and SB10’s success. I am reprinting here as a resource and reference. Getting the legislation passed for Senate Bil 10 was just the beginning. As we know, for the reservoir to come to fruition we must be diligent over the coming years.
Notice the July 1st, 2017 deadline for the SFWMD to”request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.”
Relationships with the District continue to be strained; a nice phone call or email to Executive Director Peter Antonacci or board member would prove helpful. We must rebuild relationships for future success. We all do have a common goal, clean water for Florida.

http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/executive%20management

SIERRA CLUB, FLORIDA’S SB10 Blog-by John Ullman
SB10, Important Deadlines:

By July 1, 2017 SFWMD must request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.

By July 31, 2017, SFWMD must contact the lessors and landowners of 3,200 acres of state-owned land and 500 acres of privately-owned land just west of the A-2 parcel. SFWMD must express interest in acquiring this land through purchase, exchange, or terminating leases.

If the US Army Corps agrees to begin developing the post-authorization report, work on the report must begin by August 1, 2017.

SFWMD must report the status of the post-authorization change report to Fla Legislature by January 9, 2018.

SFWMD and Corps must submit the post-authorization change report to Congress by October 1, 2018.*

The House passed the measure with a 99-19 vote; the Senate passed it 33-0.

The Governor signed SB 10 into law on May 9, 2017

Details of SB 10:

• Accelerates the state’s 20-year goal of storing water south of Lake Okeechobee.

• Requires SFWMD to develop a project plan for an Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir that provides at least 240,000 acre-feet (about 78 billion gallons) of water storage by utilizing the A-2 parcel (14,000 acres of state-owned land), land swaps, early termination of leases, and land acquisition.

• Provides for at least two-thirds of the water storage capacity of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) Component G.

• Allows the A-1 parcel to remain a Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) as provided for in the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), or to be utilized for the EAA Reservoir if SFWMD can provide for at least 360,000 acre-feet of water storage.

• Requires SFWMD to include increased canal conveyance improvements, if needed, and features to meet water quality standards in the EAA Reservoir project.

• Provides deadlines for submitting the plan to Congress as a post-authorization change report, which will seek approval of the use of the A-2 parcel in a different manner than was authorized in CEPP.

• If the Corps has not approved the post-authorization change report and submitted it to Congress by October 1, 2018 or the post-authorization change report is not approved by Congress by December 31, 2019, SFWMD must request the Corps to develop a project implementation report for the EAA Reservoir Project located somewhere else.

• Prohibits the use of eminent domain to obtain privately held land.

• Provides for termination of the U.S. Sugar option agreement prior to the October 2020 expiration date if the post-authorization change report receives congressional approval or SFWMD certifies to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House that acquisition of the land necessary for the EAA reservoir project has been completed.

• Authorizes the use of Florida Forever bonds in an amount of up to $800 million for the costs of land acquisition, planning and construction of the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to the Everglades Trust Fund, in the 2017-18 fiscal year, for the purposes of acquiring land or negotiating leases to implement or for planning or construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir project.

• Appropriates $3 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the development of the CEPP post-authorization change report.

• Amends the LATF distribution to include $64 million of additional funding for the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the General Revenue Trust Fund to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund to provide a loan for implementation of Phase I of the C-51 reservoir project.

• Appropriates $1 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the purpose of negotiating Phase II of the C-51 reservoir and provides the LATF as a potential funding source for the implementation of Phase II of the C-51 reservoir.

• Creates the water storage facility revolving loan fund and requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules for its implementation.

• Creates the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to provide grants to stimulate and support training and employment programs that seek to re-train and employ displaced agricultural workers.

• Requires SFWMD to give preferential hiring treatment to displaced agricultural workers, consistent with their qualifications and abilities, for construction and operation of the EAA reservoir project.

• Terminates the inmate labor work program on state-owned lands in the EAA.

The post-authorization change report must be approved by Congress by December 1, 2019.*

*If these two deadlines are not met (and no extension is granted), then the SFWMD must request that the Corps initiate the planning for the EAA Reservoir project that will result in a new Project Implementation Report (PIR) and may continue to build CEPP components as planned in the 2014 PIR.

Posted by Jon Ullman, May 2017, Sierra Club blog
Sierra Club Florida website:http://www.sierraclub.org/florida

JTL 6-23-17